September 26, 2007

Can Senator Larry Craig withdraw his guilty plea?

If he can, who can't?
To withdraw a guilty plea under Minnesota law, defendants must prove that ["manifest injustice"] has occurred....

Craig, who has declared he is "not gay" and never has been, has contended in legal motions that he was "deeply panicked"...

But the prosecution has contended that Craig did not panic and was keenly aware of his legal standing during the two months from his arrest date to Aug. 8, when the court accepted his guilty plea and a $500 fine....

[The government argues] that in at least three phone conversations, the senator "seemed calm, intelligent and methodical in his questions" before filing the guilty plea.

25 comments:

Revenant said...

I'm not a lawyer, but it sure doesn't look to me like he's got any grounds for withdrawing the plea.

former law student said...

Why would Craig want to be tried for lewd conduct? The prosecution can put expert witnesses on the stand explaining how the next step in the Craig-cop ritual would have been Craig's sexually gratifying the cop. And arguing, "I'm not gay, I just like to sexually gratify strange men in public restrooms" doesn't sound like it gets Craig back his reputation.

Michael Reynolds said...

I hereby announce my intention to withdraw my guilty plea to reckless driving in Virginia thirty years ago. I was deeply panicked. By the fact that I was guilty.

The Drill SGT said...

I guess I don't understand his plan.

does he think that by weaseling out of a guilty plea that it changes the perception in the minds of the voters or his grandchildren?

what exactly is the point?

Bissage said...

Sarge asked (sort of), "I guess I don't understand his plan."

Maybe this is a decent enough answer: I think it was the great lawyer Edward Bennett Williams who said, "The best client is a frightened, rich man."

Yep.

Original Mike said...

If he can, who can't

Dead people. Kinda makes the death penalty more appealing, doesn't it?.

(just kidding)

SteveR said...

The time element makes "deeply panicked" an unbelivable excuse for a person of his age and position. In fact, if true, an even more valid reason for him to resign. I sure don't want the already questionable capabilities of United States senators further diminshed by walking around "deeply panicked" by an airport cop (no offense to airport cops intended).

P. D. "Bo" Steele said...

Taking a "wide" view of the situation, may his "stance" he is just trying to "stall" for time. But you just can't "snap your fingers" and do that, can you?

PatCA said...

"If he can, who can't?"

Good one!

If he ever wants to get rid of his female partner once and for all, I would advise him to move to California, though.
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/09/26/spector.verdict/?iref=mpstoryview

jane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jane said...

"Can Senator Larry Craig withdraw his guilty plea?"

Who, other than an avowed hetero, would bother with the withdrawal method?

Trooper York said...

I understand he just hired Phil Spector's lawyers.

matthew said...

Well, I doubt he has a leg to stand on in terms of actually withdrawing his plea.

But I don't think he should quit his job. It still is striking to me how people upon hearing the news would immediately call for his resignation. It appears to be an oddly overt sort of discrimination

Given that a sizable chunk of Americans are closeted gays, why are people on both sides of aisle insecure about having a closeted gay man remain congress? Why should someone resign for a minor infraction that many people, including the ACLU, think of as an illegal sting operation?

His reputation will never be flushed clean, but he should at least finish out his term, disorderly conduct and all.

MadisonMan said...

I don't think Senator Craig should retire either. He's a great example of hypocrisy in action for the Gay Old Party. A great example of the culture of above-the-law-ism that stinks up the District of Columbia. On the Republican side of the aisle, in this case.

Besides, do lobbying firms hire ex-senators with wide stances? We need to think of his future earning potential. Can't have ex-Senators going hungry.

jeff said...

"I guess I don't understand his plan.
does he think that by weaseling out of a guilty plea that it changes the perception in the minds of the voters or his grandchildren?
what exactly is the point?"

While I seriously doubt this IS his point, it could be that taking this to trial might force the police dept to actually wait until someone breaks the law before arresting them.

"The prosecution can put expert witnesses on the stand explaining how the next step in the Craig-cop ritual would have been Craig's sexually gratifying the cop."

Followed by the Defense asking these expert witnesses in what manner are they reading the defendant's mind in testifying what he WOULD have done had this gone further. Then pointing out to the jury that they are not allowed to convict based on what might have happened, but rather are obligated to judge based on what actually did happen, pointing out that no actual laws had been broken up to the point of the arrest.

former law student said...

it could be that taking this to trial might force the police dept to actually wait until someone breaks the law before arresting them.
Let's say you are the Minnesota airport, and passengers are complaining that people are having sex in the restroom near the food court. You surf on over to cruisingforsex.com, and discover amidst the gay porn ads that indeed, that restroom is listed as a very cruisy toilet. You start by posting a security guard outside, but that doesn't stop the sex from going on inside. Plus stationing a security guard 16/7 costs money.

What would you do at that point to prevent sex from happening in a toilet open to males of all ages? Put cameras in all the stalls?

pointing out that no actual laws had been broken up to the point of the arrest.
Unfortunately for Sen. Craig, Minnesota has an attempt statute, which only requires a substantial step, beyond mere preparation. And when the experts tell the jury that not only did the tapping and groping constitute that substantial step, but that the Senator had done all but the final act to sexually gratify the cop, the case against the Senator is complete. The fact that the cop did not actually whip it out in the expected response to Craig's actions is not dispositive.

Sen. Craig should have checked the "head's up" section of cruisingforsex.com before he attempted anonymous restroom sex in the MN airport. They had recorded a series of increasingly heavy enforcement actions, starting with posting the security guard, for that very "T-room."

And, if Craig complains he imitated the series of actions by mistake, the person who claimed a year ago to have had sex with Craig in DC's Union Station could testify under the hearsay exception to show absence of mistake.

I can't see how a trial would be anything but disastrous for Craig.

jeff said...

"Let's say you are the Minnesota airport, and passengers are complaining that people are having sex in the restroom near the food court. You surf on over to cruisingforsex.com, and discover amidst the gay porn ads that indeed, that restroom is listed as a very cruisy toilet. You start by posting a security guard outside, but that doesn't stop the sex from going on inside. Plus stationing a security guard 16/7 costs money.

What would you do at that point to prevent sex from happening in a toilet open to males of all ages? Put cameras in all the stalls?"

So your choice is to arrest people BEFORE a law is broken based on what he think he probably would do if you let it go further? Really?

"Unfortunately for Sen. Craig, Minnesota has an attempt statute, which only requires a substantial step, beyond mere preparation."
And breaking this statute results in exactly what charge? Unfortunately for Minnesota, should anyone appeal this statute, it can't possibly be considered constitutional. For a number of reasons.
Suppose I am a bad neighborhood in Minneapolis and people who live there complain about prostitution in my area. It's too expensive to post a cop here 24/7. No worries. Just pass a statute against parking your car and speaking to someone on the street.
Suppose I am a grocery store and the owners complain about all the gang members who are in my store. Its too expensive to post a cop 24/7 in the store. No problem. Pass a statue against anyone being in my store who doesnt wear a belt. Or wears the color red. Or blue.

You're right. Passing these statutes are much easier than actually catching people AFTER they break the law. Better to convict before, based on "substantial steps" that might have later led to breaking of the law.

former law student said...

Reading the statutes on line, I see the penalty for attempted crimes in Minnesota is half the penalty for completed crimes, but not less than 90 days in jail or $100. Here Craig could spend 90 days in jail or pay a $500 fine.
617.23 INDECENT EXPOSURE; PENALTIES.
Subdivision 1. Misdemeanor. A person who commits any of the following acts in any public
place, or in any place where others are present
, is guilty of a misdemeanor:
(1) willfully and lewdly exposes the person's body, or the private parts thereof;
(2) procures another to expose private parts; or
(3) engages in any open or gross lewdness or lascivious behavior, or any public indecency
other than behavior specified in this subdivision.

You wonder why our society punishes people who attempt crimes. Basically because these people are dangerous, and we want to discourage them from committing crime. Try reading Packer's The Limits of the Criminal Sanction.

Richard said...

Your commenters amuse me. Many wonder why on earth Mr. Craig could possibly want to withdraw his plea. As one put asked, "Why would Craig want to be tried for lewd conduct?"

Ah, maybe because he's innocent? I'm an attorney, and know of many criminal defendants who pled to things they didn't do. It's far more common than most folks realize or want to admit.

former law student said...

Sure, the cop could be lying and Craig could be 100% innocent. But according to this practitioner of the tearoom trade:
There are about 10 million other gay guys in America who, like me, are perfectly fluent in the language that Larry Craig was speaking in that Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport men's room -- and millions more around the globe, because it's truly an international language.

I couldn't care less if Larry Craig comes out of the closet.

But I will not let him tell me he wasn't cruising. He could teach a Cruising 101 course.


http://wockner.blogspot.com/2007/08/10-million-americans-know-better.html

hdhouse said...

The wonderous liberal in me wants Craig to be successful in withdrawing his plea, the judge becoming angry with him for it but tightlipped, the prosecutor happy happy to put him on trial, a few delays and my dreams answered, Senator Craig, on of the moral standard bearers for the GOP goes to trial, hmmmmm September or October 2008 in a televised trial that lasts about a week on CNN.

Now that would make life worth living!

The Exalted said...

he wants to withdraw because he's a sad, desperate person vainly reaching for any lifeline

as the guilty often are

Guesst said...

Why isn't anybody noticing that law enforcement promised Mr. Craig this would not become public if he'd just agree to sign off on the charges (reduced?).

So how did this become public?

They reneged on their part of the deal. Why can't he?

former law student said...

Too little, too late?

The Star-Tribune reports that in their "cruisy" toilets, the MSP airport will install dividers that reach within a couple inches of the floor.

http://www.startribune.com/462/story/1452038.html

One of the people arrested over the summer told police he had four sexual encounters in three hours, and it was only on his fifth approach that someone objected, Hogan said.


The airport will spend an estimated $25,000 installing the new dividers. Putting them in every airport bathroom would cost about $1 million, Hogan said.


"It is unfortunate to look at having to spend $1 million on something that wouldn't be necessary if people simply behaved themselves,'' he said.

Akiva said...

I've heard some talk about the constitution provision which prevents a congress person from being arrested or charged on their way to/from Congress with voting sessions.

Any reason why he's not invoking this to overturn the conviction?